REPORT: Zack Wheeler Rejects Qualifying Offer From Mets

Free Agent Pitcher Should Have Multiple Suitors

Brandon Contes
November 14, 2019 - 6:44 pm

It was long expected, but now it’s official, Zack Wheeler has rejected the $17.8 million one-year qualifying offer from the Mets as he seeks a large free-agent deal.

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With teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Angels and Wheeler’s hometown Atlanta Braves all shopping for starting rotation help, the pitcher should command multiple lucrative offers. It seems likely the Mets will be outbid for Wheeler, but they still remain interested in keeping him wearing orange and blue next season.

"We’ll continue to have dialogue," Brodie Van Wagenen said Thursday from the GM Meetings. "He’s been a key contributor to our team in recent years."

Signing a starting pitcher to a large contract is not totally out of the realm of possibility, Van Wagenen and the Mets committed $137.5 million over 5-years to Jacob deGrom prior to the start of the 2019 season.

 Zack Wheeler pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at Citi Field.
USA Today Sports Images

Waking up Aug. 1, Wheeler had an ERA of 4.71. A disappointing year to that point meant accepting the qualifying offer from the Mets might be a consideration. Wheeler could have taken the one-year deal worth nearly $18 million and attempted to build his free-agency value for next year. But a strong late season push beginning Aug. 1 saw Wheeler chop his ERA by nearly a run, from 4.71 to 3.96. Six times during that span Wheeler pitched seven innings or more.

After missing 2015 and 2016 due to injury, Wheeler began showing the potential the Mets thought they acquired when they traded their now manager Carlos Beltran for him in 2011. During the last two seasons the 29-year old Wheeler proved to be durable, making 60 starts with a 3.65 ERA, averaging a strikeout per inning.

Wheeler is not at the top of the free-agent pitching class led by Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole, but he’s considered to be in the tier just below them. A four or five-year deal worth close to $20 million annually is not out of the question for Wheeler.